Almost a tradition: Valentine's Origami

The last couple of years, I have done a Valentine's origami project for the blog, where I have done special patterns, tutorials and such, but this year I have been too busy. 

The other evening I did try these three dimensional puffy hearts, though, and they were fun to make. I found them on the Paper Kawaii YouTube-channel - a really great place to go, if you like origami. The instructions are very well produced and super easy to follow. 

Have a cosy, or perhaps even romantic, February 14th. Be good to someone, maybe especially yourself!

Go check out the flat origami hearts from last year - or perhaps the Hidden Heart origami letters from 2016. That year I also posted some Valentine's themed traditional Menko and Tato folded origami letters.


Yes, it's that time of year

It's friday and I'm packing for the annual skiing trip to Sweden, a topic I have covered in great length before - but I hope you'll forgive me. It's simply that I am always so delirious with joy that we are going, and can hardly wait. I get like a five year old, when I look at the images from the other years, to me it's better than Christmas (well, almost) and New Years put together, and the best thing we do all winter.

It also gives me an excuse to post silly or nostalgic skiing outfit pictures, so today I am presenting to you (above) the lovely Lady Clementine Churchill, in two piece wool, Hermès scarf and St. Bernard dog. 1937 in St. Moritz, of course, where apparently most truly stylish skiing takes place. She gets to go first, because I just watched the very see worthy 'The Crown' on Netflix, where she is portrayed in a very sweet manner. 

I adore these ladies as well....

However, I could not see myself doing much skiing in heavy wool trousers, fur and stiff leather boots. Skiing I find complicated enough as it is, and modern, functional sportswear are one of the reasons it is doable. 

Except this polka dot number from a sixties editorial in Italian Vogue. Now, that I could go for. 

(images are from Getty Archives and Condé Nast Traveller)


Suits January perfectly: Brutgroup on Instagram

My favourite Instagram flow at the moment is this one: @BRUTgroup - a curated selection of images submitted from all over the world, with one theme: Brutalist architecture. Now, this is an architectural style most people have lots of opinion about, and no wonder, as it often has a kind of totalitarian-regime-vibe, and seems to be more about elaborate, over-the-top visions, rather than constructive ideas. 

But if you follow this account, and see the generous flow of images from all corners of the world, you get a much more nuanced idea, and sometimes simply a bit of a laugh - some of the projects are really absurd (and beware: a few of them are created in Photoshop!).

But there is something really beautiful here, I think. At least it's sculptural and eerie, and just perfect as a kind of architecture of the soul for this January, with its usual lack of sunshine and eternal howling wind. 

All images are from BRUTgroup on Instagram. From top, buildings from Morocco, UK, Brazil, Japan and Vietnam. Some are old, some more recent. Go check this cool account yourself!


A Daruma and a Happy New Year

A Daruma is a Japanese painted papier-mâché tumbling figurine, and a very popular talisman, if you want to set yourself some goals in life, but have ordinary human limitations and need a bit of encouragement. 

It is very much that kind of time in my life right now, and I have a very small one (but size does not matter) staring at me, as I type this.

The plump, little guy is actually a portrait of Bodhidharma, the monk who founded zen buddhism, and when used as a talisman, it works like this: first you set a specific goal - and yes, it needs to be quite specific, measurable and not vague. Then you go get your Daruma. The Daruma is born with blank eyes, and the next thing you do is fill in the one eye. Place your Daruma somewhere near you, like at your desk or bedside table, where he will look at you, wink-wink, reminding you about your goal. 

And then one day, amazingly, your goal is achieved. And then you get to fill in the other eye. 

They are to some extend a New Years tradition, but not exclusively. The Japanese use them all year round, and they even come in different colours for different themes: gold for financial matters, purple for health, white for love etc. The red, for general good luck, seems to be the popular one!

There is a zen proverb often connected with them:
Nana Korobi Ya Oki,
meaning 'Fall down seven times, get up eight'. 

With that little guy, I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year, and hope that your dreams will come true, and that you will meet some of your important goals.

Photo credits:
Darumas outside temple: Tony Lopez on Pinterest / Daruma painter: Yuriko Nakao, Reuters


Magic Snowflake Paper Toy

For all the impatient kids who are tired of bending over their their iPads or TV-shows (and perhaps even some of their parents?), I have this little Christmas present. If you have never had a kaleidocycle in your hands, it's about time you did. This is a cunning little paper construction, and easy to build yourself - and I have made you one with festive and seasonal snowflakes. 

All you have to do is get this PDF, print it on regular paper (perhaps the heavier quality, if you have it), cut, trace and glue. I took a few photos to show you - see the mini-tutorial here. 

It folds endlessly into itself, giving you lots of time to think of something nice and relax for a bit. Think of it as a very low tech fidget spinner, and even something you might decorate the seasonal table with. 

I even made you a primitive GIF to show you how it works.....

Happy Lillejuleaften as we say in Danish - or 'Little Christmas Eve'


Holiday spirits-ish

Even though I am technically only semi-employed and freelance working at the moment, it feels great to be able to say: Finally Christmas vacation and a bit of peace and rest! Or not quite yet, that is. Today we are having a party at our house, tomorrow it's office Christmas parties, Saturday it's going to be all about (I suspect) slightly panicky shopping - and then there's the big to do on the 24th.

But then, perhaps? All I wanna do is take a long, long walk, some place beautiful and quiet, without shopping bags or places to be at a certain time.

I love this photo, I found it on Flickr a long time ago. It's by Manuel Raposo, and appears to be taken in Salzburg. I want to be in that photo.


Upside Down Origami

Are they flowers? Or a kind of three dimensional stars? Should you hang them this way - or that? 
I really couldn't say. You decide. 

But they are easy and quick to make, and for these I had some fun with a pile of old magazines I was taking to the recycle dumpster, but absentmindedly stood around leafing through. And I just saw all these nice colours and textures, and started ripping pages out. 

Dusty or fleshy pink is still unavoidable it seems, and that's all right with me. 

I put together a tutorial for you, so go get it right here, and get started on the little thingys. They take about five minutes to make, and would be fine for kids or origami novices.

Hope you'll have fun with them, have a great weekend!


That Lucia time of year

If Christmas hasn't gotten to me yet, it always will at Lucia, on December 13th. I think it is one of the most wonderful of all Christmas traditions, and the story behind is beautiful as well. Read an old post about it here (and find recipes for saffron Lucia buns).

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a closet Swede, and when I think of Lucia, I do associate it very much with Sweden, but I am delighted that we have adopted the tradition here in Denmark.

Not many schools, kindergartens or shopping malls in Denmark today, without a parade of sweetly singing children, bearing (practical, modern and battery powered) candles and clad in white gowns (worn over their practical GoreTex outfits and winter boots.) Most of the kindergarten kids doing the parade, will make a round of retirement homes and hospitals in their local area.

In Vesterbro in Copenhagen, the church organize a large Lucia street parade, and another wildly popular event is the Kayak Lucia Parade, where hundreds of kayaks, all trimmed with lights and torches, paddle and sing in all the inner city canals. 

Happy Lucia, and may the light of love and compassion shine on you all. 

Photo credits: 
top: Nordiska Museet, Stockholm / unknown / Skansen Museum, Stockholm
bottom: street parade in Copenhagen: Kirken I København / kayaks: aok.dk


Styrofoam artwork by Jenni Rope

On this grey and sludgy Tuesday, my eyes feast on these large mobile sculptures by the Finnish artist Jenni Rope - they look like slow motion explosions. They are big works, more like room installations, and are not the only type of thing she does - she is also a very fine painter and graphic artist (I love those brushstroke works and also her textile pattern design). But mobiles are something I was always quite crazy about, and the way she uses styrofoam slabs to make these, is really cool.

When you paint styrofoam, it looks like all kinds of other things: rocks, minerals, concrete - heavy, somehow. And a bit unreal. 

I always find it an enormous inspiration, when artists work in anywhere available and inexpensive materials, such as these. You don't need brass, bronze or granite to make fine sculptural expressions!

Sometimes she does on-the-floor installations with these odd, painted shapes, I really love this one from 2011, 'The Findings'.


Japanese Quilt Stars

The Christmas project for you this weekend, are these cool stars. I named them Japanese Quilt Stars, because they look like the stars often used in traditional quilts - and I made you special print-and-cut paper sheets for these, with lots of Japanese vibe. 

They are surprisingly simple modular (6 unit) origami stars - not made from square papers, but from rectangular ones. I have made you some very easy to use sheets for printing and cutting, crop marked for your convenience. With my sheets a star like this is about 18 centimetres across.

My sheet-designs are for printing on both sides, because this design really displays both sides of the paper (and they have a very pretty and completely different looking backside....)

To print these sheets (four small sheets per A4, and you need six units for one star) on both sides, set the printer to print 'page 1 only'. Then grab your sheets from the 'out'-tray, turn them over, put them in the feed tray blank side up, and print again, this time set to 'page 2 only'. I do this all the time, because of my obsession with designing my own origami paper, which - of course - is so much nicer with print in two different designs.

Download my designs right here. I mixed them a lot, as you can see from the backsides, but just one pattern can be varied, in alternating between which pattern you face outwards, in the first fold. 

A: red waves and dots
B: blue arrows and squares

C: pink stripes and triangles
D: blue waves and diagonals
E: red snow and waves

F: blue stars and dots

Last but not least: the stars are really not hard to make at all, if you have just a little bit of origami experience, but I have not produced my own tutorial for these, since there is no way I could explain them as well as this patient Indian gentleman on YouTube. 

Happy folding, and have a great weekend.